Review of Torchwood ‘The New World’
With an opening that has all the hallmarks of a Hollywood film, ‘Torchwood’ has come crashing back onto our screens and the first episode sends out a strong message: Torchwood is here to stay. Following much speculation about the future of the series and a two-year hiatus, Russell T. Davies’ ‘Doctor Who’ spinoff has finally returned to our screens. ‘Torchwood’ has been resurrected through a combination of funding from BBC Wales, BBC Worldwide and American television network Starz, which has transformed the show.
The 10-part story arc of ‘Torchwood: Miracle Day’ revolves around the idea that someone or something has changed the rules of life. No one dies. A person involved in a fatal car crash with a pole driven through their chest continues to breathe. Despite their horrific injuries they will continue to live in agonising pain. The head of a decapitated corpse continues to blink and register consciousness even though it is no longer connected to the rest of the body. The miracle day begins with the failed execution of convicted paedophile and murderer Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman) and ripples out across the world. But who is he and what is his significance?
This is ‘Torchwood’ on a much grander scale, with bigger names including Hollywood veteran Pullman and ‘ER’ star Mekhi Phifer. The stunts are better with Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) and Torchwood newbie Esther Drummond (Alexa Havins) leaping out of a window as the building explodes in a huge fireball. The storytelling now has an epic quality and will span the entire series, similar to American shows such as ‘The Wire’, ‘24’ and ‘Lost’.
Given the need to bridge the Transatlantic gap, ‘The New World’ is jam-packed with action and is addictive to watch. As well as the shift in setting from Cardiff to Washington, the tone has also changed. It is less of bleak and depressive like the first three series instead it is about the adrenaline rush and thrill to discover what is going on.
Additionally, there is something that is reminiscent of ‘The X-Files’, given the mix of extraterrestrial elements and government conspiracy. There is something for British and the American audiences alike. ‘Torchwood’ is glossier, with better special effects but it is now a case of maintaining the pace and the quality of writing.
As the BBC feels the pinch of financial cuts, could this be the future for funding British television programmes? ‘Torchwood’ has certainly proved that these joint projects marry together brilliant writing with valuable financial resources to bring stories to life. A show that may have died a sad death several years ago has been given another chance.
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